Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality

Domestic and Sexual Violence: Discussion

3:40 pm

Ms Margaret O'Keeffe:

Basically, the programme we run is based on cognitive behavioural analysis supported by a gender analysis of power and control. It is very much within a feminist model of engagement, but taking into account that the person can change their behaviour. The best supporting evidence for it is through the work of Professor E. W. Gondolf, who did a multi-site research in 2002 and follow-up, which showed that a man was capable of changing his attitudes and behaviour. However, he entered the caveat, and this is one that is stressed in the presentation today, that it must be grounded in a co-ordinated approach. In other words, the culture, society and economy all must give the guy the same message that what he does is unacceptable.

In terms of the micro outcomes, I have been a facilitator on a programme and I am aware of my colleagues' work in Cork and elsewhere across the country, and we definitely see positive changes and guys do change their behaviour. However, I must make an important point which we did not make earlier, due to time constraints. We can only work with a certain type of man. He must pass the rubric of being willing to change and being motivated to do so, whatever the motivation might be. Hopefully, it is good. I would be loath to advance a professional opinion on the type of person Don Hennessy refers to as the domestic terrorist or intimate terrorist, but we could not deal with somebody like that. We could only work with somebody who is willing to change their behaviour and sees the benefits in doing so. However, I must be clear, and I am very clear about this in my work, that we cannot be used as a substitute for the criminal justice system. Nevertheless, change is most certainly possible.


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